One day I took a walk in the local nature center. The educational center at the head of the trail showed me how the sound is periodically flooded by salt-water from the sea, destroying some life forms and nourishing others.

I sat near the salt marsh for some time, watching the storks and egrets hunting for small creatures in the water’s edge.

I reflected on the way people have built structures that continue to slide down hills when the rain comes, how we have built retaining walls that do little good, how we built a dam at tide level in New Orleans, and others in other parts of the world. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods — we all resist the natural forces of the world, building buildings (and our whole society) in denial of the eventual disaster.

But we don’t have to continue to build in this manner. Why not take our lessons on how to build with natural forces from Nature herself? Change is part of the equation, and it doesn’t have to be a disaster, but just part of the process. As the ancient Egyptians looked forward to their annual flood, so we can build in cooperation with nature. We can build buildings that don’t resist natural forces, even the ones of decay.

Who, after all, wants to swim in an ocean filled with the concrete from the street of million dollar homes washed away in the last landslide or hurricane? Who wants to drink the water from the stream fed by the toxic waste from the landfill? Why make things to last? Wouldn’t a great economy be supported by new buildings to replace the old after they have gracefully decayed back into the environment?

Now, we can take the metaphor further, and learn how to build everything from the lessons of nature; buildings, cities, social structures, education, relationships, a nation and a world that is tolerant, resilient, and flexible to change.

In the process we will build a society of creative, empowered people who are flexible to change, and aligned with the forces of the Earth. Whether we fight it or not, we are just part of the natural system; the choice has always been ours — do we oppose Nature or flow with it?

Copyright 2010 Aliyah Marr

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